The tourism industry is usually perceived – based on true facts – as business based on low-skilled workers. However, many researchers have identified a curious trend: creative workers settle down in touristic areas, due to elements such as the concentration of creative professionals, a community of creative industries and an open-minded atmosphere, or other conventional factors such as affordable housing, high-quality infrastructures and services, a booming job market, and an attractive lifestyle.
According to Francesc Gonzalez, professor and researcher at Open University of Catalonia (UOC), research currently being carried out in many seafront tourist villages in the area of Barcelona points to the following factors attracting creative talent:
- Closeness to a large urban area and housing availability
- Positive perception of the urban and social environment, with criteria such as inclusiveness, openness and tolerance to social diversity, a pleasant and efficient urban environment, and life quality.
Other findings show that these villages are experiencing a transformation: previously, they were temporary leisure and vacation destinations for visitors; now, they are becoming complex urban areas which offer an outstanding quality of life which is very appreciated by the demanding segment of creative workers.
The concept of “creative worker” encompasses many types of professionals, generally speaking all those who carry out intellectual, management and creative jobs with an innovative approach.
The importance of this type of residents for the local economy is subject to many different opinions. For example, Richard Florida, the American urban studies theorist, reasons that attracting talented workers is one of the main concerns for businesses, and therefore the existence of communities of creative workers is a key factor to be taken into account when deciding the location of a company headquarters or delegation, as these communities are an essential condition for innovation. Although this statement is subject to controversy within the academic community, it is quite obvious that the capacity to attract creative workers is at least a big plus for the development of the local economies.
In “The Vision of Tourism 3.0” white paper, creative professionals play a key role in the development of the destination, regardless of whether they work in the tourism industry or not. As it will be explained in the coming white paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in destinations”, all professionals living in or near the destination in question are considered stakeholders and potential contributors to the Open Innovation System, and are therefore expected to bring their know-how and creativity to overcome the various challenges of the destination, using an innovative approach.
So, while the cause-effect relationship between creative professionals living in a place and its development success is not well-defined, mainly due to being too indirect in nature in many cases, in the case of destinations focusing its development on the principles of the Tourism 3.0 approach, this relationship becomes direct and strong, as long as all community residents, and especially the creative professionals, are encouraged and engaged in addressing the local challenges through open innovation. In this way, this type of destinations go one step further in leveraging the creative workers’ potential to foster economic development, while at the same time creating better conditions that attract and result in this creative group settling in the destination in question.